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Q: How do I configure Thunderbird to connect to the MIT Exchange server?

How do I configure Thunderbird to connect to MIT's Microsoft Exchange email server?


This can be accomplished by connecting to

  1. (If this is the first time you are running Thunderbird, go on to step 2.)
    Under Tools > Account Settings (on some versions Preferences > Account Settings), click Account Actions then Add Mail Account.
    Account Actions

    Result: The New Mail Account setup dialog box appears.

    Account Actions

  2. Fill in correct name, MIT email, and password, and click Continue.
    Make sure to put your email address.

    Result: Thunderbird will try to use old IMAP account settings.
    Wrong email account settings

  3. Click Manual Config, then fill in the settings as below
    • Incoming server:
    • Port: 993
    • Connection type: SSL
    • Authentication: Normal password

    • Outgoing server:
    • Port: 465 or 587
    • Connection type: SSL
    • Authentication: Normal password

      Correct email account settings

  4. Click on Advanced Config, then click OK on the Account Settings window to exit the Account Settings window, then click on your email inbox to let it populate.
    If you click Re-Test, the configuration will fail and it won't let you click Advanced Config. Change one setting (e.g. delete your username and retype it) and it will allow you to click advanced config again) Ignore the test, the settings are correct.

    "Correct email account settings

    In Thunderbird 13.0 (and maybe before this), Thunderbird will not let Exchange accounts pass the connection test. After filling out the above and once the connection test fails, one can click Advanced configuration to go to the Account Settings page, and then click OK, then click on your mailbox and wait for it to populate.

5. When adding the Exchange account as a secondary account, verify that the correct email address, or a specific Reply-To address is set :

  1. Go to the Tools menu on top and choose Account settings from the drop down menu.
  2. In the left pane highlight your account.
  3. In the right pane, in the Default settings section set your address to or set a specific Reply-To address
  4. Click OK to save the changes.

Additional notes: Folder subscriptions

If you do not see all the mail folders that you expect to see or if it looks like folders are missing, check to see that all of your folders are marked as "subscribed".

  1. Right-click your Inbox folder and choose Subscribe... from the menu.
  2. In the Subscribe window, put a checkmark on every folder that you want to appear in your folder list.
    Folders without checkmarks will be hidden and will not appear.

More notes: Refiles and Deletions

The IMAP protocol for refiling a message is two steps: copy the message to the new folder first, then delete the old copy of a message. The deletion is itself two steps - mark the message as "deleted", and then purge deleted messages after that. A mail program (such as Thunderbird) which is using this protocol will generally not display messages which have been marked as deleted.

However, Exchange clients such as will show messages which have been marked as deleted using IMAP.

This means that if you do a lot of refiling messages in Thunderbird, you may see the messages in both the new location and the old location. Or if you delete a message in Thunderbird, the message will not appear to be deleted in OWA.

The way to fix this is to use the "Compact Folders" command in Thunderbird, to remove messages that have been marked as deleted, before you visit your mail in OWA.


Documentation and information provided by the MIT Community

Last Modified:

May 03, 2016

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